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    Esther Lederberg

    Dr. Esther Miriam Lederberg (nee Zimmer) was born in 1922 in New York. She graduated high school at sixteen and won a scholarship to Hunter College, initially intending to study Literature. She switched to Biochemistry and graduated in 1942. Two years later, Ester received a fellowship to study genetics at Stanford University. Here she met her first husband, Joseph Lederberg.

    After she received her master’s degree in 1946, she he spent a summer studying microbiology at Hopkins Marine Station and then went to the University of Wisconsin, where she received a United States Public Health Service Fellowship for research and earned her doctorate in 1950. While at the University of Wisconsin, Ester worked with her husband studying bacterial genetics.

    Among Lederberg's achievements was the discovery of lambda phage, a virus that infects E. coli bacteria. She published the first report of it in Microbial Genetics Bulletin in 1951, and it quickly became a significant and widely used tool for studying genetic recombination and gene regulation. Esther vastly improved on the technique of replica plating. This allows for the replication of bacteria colonies on a series of agar plates with the exact same spatial configuration.

    In 1956 the Society of Illinois Bacteriologists awarded the Pasteur Award to both Joshua and Esther Lederberg, given in recognition of their contribution to microbiology, particularly for their fundamental studies in bacterial genetics’. This was the first time the award had ever been given to a team of researchers.

    Two years later, Joshua received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for discovering that bacteria can mate and exchange genes. Despite all of Ester’s contributions, on the occasion of his Nobel Prize, Joshua did not mention Esther in either of his speeches, when he received the award and during the gala dinner.

    In addition to her passion for science, Lederberg was intensely involved in the study and practice of Early Music using original instruments. She helped organize and performed in an amateur orchestra. Ester died of pneumonia on November 11, 2006.

    bs-1992r bsm-51270m bs-0908r bs-0115r bs-0580r bsm-51273m bsm50270m bs-0128r bsm-51020m bsm-50303m JAK / STAT Pathway